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Old 'routine' for Buford girls' trip to Macon

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Buford's Kaela Davis (3) celebrates her score during the 2012 Georgia High School Association girls basketball state quarterfinals at the Northwest Georgia Trade Center in Dalton on Friday.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Buford's Kaela Davis (3) celebrates her score during the 2012 Georgia High School Association girls basketball state quarterfinals at the Northwest Georgia Trade Center in Dalton on Friday.

Not much thought went into today's plan. Well, it did in years past, but no longer.

Buford's girls basketball team will make a now-familiar trip down Interstate 75 to Macon and its Centreplex and a return to the Class AA Final Four.

"We've got a pretty good routine," Buford head coach Gene Durden said.

Buford will drive down to Macon today, have its usual workout and play Brooks County at 7 p.m. If the Wolves win, they will stay in town and await the championship game and another shot at a state championship.

A goal of getting to Macon begins each year for the Wolves so this year's return is a check mark that doesn't get any less special marking.

"Each season it's different because its team is totally different," Durden said. "We are very excited but, probably because they have been there, are more relaxed because we've been there before."

Team dynamics change every year, but a team with four seniors and four juniors knows what to expect from the Final Four experience and the specifics of shooting and succeeding in Macon.

"It's a true advantage to have kids who have played in that environment," Durden said. "They know what to expect."

Brooks County, Buford faces a team without a Class AA loss this season and one that uses its defense, both full and half court, to set a "frantic pace," according to Durden.

"They are a lot like (the talented teams) we've played," Durden said.

And Buford comes in at the fullest strength it's been all season.

Tennessee-bound Andraya Carter continues her comeback from an offseason knee injury and 6-foot-3 post player MacKenzie Darrah bolsters the lineup after suffering a midseason dislocated hip.

"She adds a lot of versatility for us," Durden said of Darrah. "She does a great job of post defense."

Fellow-senior Emily Adams joins Darrah in the front court and since the beginning of the state playoffs has added a new dimension of offense for the Wolves attack, primarily led by Carter and junior Kaela Davis.

The fourth senior, Kallie Case, Durden credits mostly for her championship experience.

"She has a winner's mentality," Durden said of the four-time softball state champion. "It's good to have her on the court."

And it's a court they are all familiar with, from the locker room they've celebrated in to the hallway running along the stands where the players enter the court. It's back to Macon for the Wolves, a welcome journey this time of year. One the Wolves never get tired of making.

"To get there is a great accomplishment," Durden said. "We still have that excitement, but they are chasing something there."